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Full text of "Alexander von Humboldt"

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On account of the monotony of the steppes, Hurn-
boldt preferred to sail into the Orinocco oa the  river
Apure.    He hired for the purpose a broad vessel called
a pixoge,  which was navigated by a steersman  and
four  Indians.    The Apure harbours many fish,   sea
cows, and tortoises,  and its shores swarm, with birds ;
the river grows gradually broader, the shore on one
side is sandy and barren, on the other grown with high
stemmed trees.    Humboldt was now in  a territory
little known by man, and exclusively inhabited by
tigers,    crocodiles,   and   chiguires.     Sometimes   the
stream was bordered by woods on both  sides; these
woods commenced with bushes of sanso, which forma
a hedge four feet high, and behind them grew a kind
of paternoster or Nicaragua wood.   Tigers, tapirs, and
pecaris had broken passages through the  hedge  to
come to water at the stream.    Where the flat shore
is rather broader, and the sanso hedges grow a little
farther from the water, the space between, serves as
a resting-place for the crocodiles, and eight or ten were
frequently seen lying immovably  on the  sand,  with
their open jaws extended.    The journey had scarcely
begun, and Humboldt knew that many hundreds more
would lie in the slime of the  savannahs I     Besides
this, the Indian rowers assured him that a year rarely
elapsed in   which   two   or  three grown up people*
generally women, coming to draw water at the stream,,
did not fall  a sacrifice to the crocodiles.    In these
deserts, says Humboldt, where man lives in constant
strife with nature, the conversation turns much  on
the means by which one can escape the  pursuit of &
tiger, a boa or a crocodile ; every one prepares to meet
the threatening dangers.    The crocodile lets loose its.
prey if one presses its eyes with the  fingers,  and a
young girl had lately escaped from the grasp of the
animal at San Fernando by this means, with the loss
only of the forearm, which it had "bitten ofil    The